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Robert Herrick: The olive branch, the arch of peace

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Robert Herrick: The Olive Branch

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Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

The Olive Branch

Sadly I walk’d within the field,
To see what comfort it would yield;
And as I went my private way,
An olive-branch before me lay;
And seeing it, I made a stay,
And took it up, and view’d it; then
Kissing the omen, said Amen;
Be, be it so, and let this be
A divination unto me;
That in short time my woes shall cease,
And love shall crown my end with peace.

*****

The Rainbow

Look how the rainbow doth appear
But in one only hemisphere;
So likewise after our decease
No more is seen the arch of peace.
That conv’nant’s here, the under-bow,
That nothing shoots but war and woe.

*****

The White Island; Or Peace of the Blest

In this world, the Isle of Dreams,
While we sit by sorrow’s streams,
Tears and terrors are our themes,
Reciting:

But when once from hence we fly,
More and more approaching nigh
Unto young eternity,
Uniting

In that whiter Island, where
Things are evermore sincere:
Candour here, and lustre there,
Delighting: –

There no monstrous fancies shall
Out of hell an horror call,
To create, or cause at all
Affrighting.

There, in calm and cooling sleep,
We our eyes shall never steep,
But eternal watch shall keep,
Attending

Pleasures such as shall pursue
Me immortalized, and you;
And fresh joys, as never too
Have ending.

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